Cycling in London

by Chris82   April 25, 2014  

I note with interest the comments regarding cycling in London. As one of the hated truck drivers i would like to make some comments. If you see a truck my advice is stay away, keep back and under no circumstances, whether its indicating or not DO NOT go up the inside of it. Secondly if you wear headphones whilst riding so you can't hear whats going on around you, well your a moron.
The roads of London are not designed for the volume of traffic that uses them and while trucks and cycles continue to use the same space accidents are going to happen. And remember we as truck drivers don'twant to come into London we are supplying the needs of 8million people, food,water,coffee all is delivered by truck.

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I'd say that the opinion of a lorry driver on a cycling forum is just as valid as the opinion of a cyclist on a lorry driving forum. It's good to hear the forthright views, and indeed frustrations, of other road users.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
25th April 2014 - 20:20

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Scoob_84 wrote:

The cycling extremists are out in force again

Please enlighten me, my dear cycling moderate, which of the views expressed here do you consider extreme?

Work harder. Buy a tank.

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posted by userfriendly [229 posts]
25th April 2014 - 22:21

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I think the object responses work better than the 'fu@k offs' generally. It at least treats the person with a degree of respect rather than just dismissing them.

I can't say that the poster has eloquently and sympathetically posted this forum, but I can understand his frustration. In the same way that cyclist, men, women and any other 'grouping' get frustrated with being unfairly tarnished I am guessing there are a good few truck drivers feel traduced by the focus that is put on them when they see rampantly poor road craft from cyclists.

I'm not suggesting that anyone deserves to be killed by a lorry, but there are a lot of cyclists who would give me stress as a lorry driver. In fact I hate driving in London because there are so many cavalier road users.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1092 posts]
26th April 2014 - 2:23

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Well, Chris82's certainly got a pair of brass ones, let's give him credit for that. And some cake to get him on board and get our feels without 7 tonnes of armour plated invulnerability around us. He feels like one of the more responsible, slightly scared lorry drivers who's trying to not not cause harm to anyone.

Unlike some of his slightly less reputable colleagues who see tonnage/hour as a competitive target like pros see wattage and bugger the consequences. There's lots of solutions for these - taking crap fleets off the road en masse, rush hour bans, better design. To those suggesting cyclists drive a lorry for a day, remind me again how many lorry drivers have been killed in collisions with cyclists.

On the cycling side of things, I see plenty of numptiness, including some from paid up lycra commuters who really should know better. The mad dash for the ASL box or an extra five yards up the inside of a bus down the double yellows makes no blooming sense to me. Might take two minutes off my journey, might take me off my bike for a whole lot longer. At junctions and lights - take and control the lane, control the visibility, control the space. Even if it's three spots back from the white line. I'll still get across the junction/lights in the first wave. The more I demand, take and control that lane space, the more space and respect I get from drivers, and the better I can respond to abject bampottery.

posted by Argos74 [268 posts]
26th April 2014 - 5:57

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That's the way it works, find and maintain a space where other road users can see you.

Moving along blind spots on a bike, or a motor vehicle is a mugs game.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [490 posts]
26th April 2014 - 9:28

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+1 to what Argos74 said... Particularly paragraph 3.

People are obsessed with being at the front rather than being in the most visible position... Which may actually be a vehicle or two back.

I see it every day in Glasgow and it worries me.

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

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posted by Jack Osbourne snr [304 posts]
26th April 2014 - 10:00

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Personally I give large HGVs as wide a berth as I can manage. And,no, I wouldn't cycle up the left of them at junctions, they scare me!

However, what I find more annoying are the smaller trucks that come zooming up behind me, rattling and clanking as they bounce over the speed bumps, before passing me too close and too fast and sometimes cutting right in on me. Kind of hard to 'avoid' them when they come up behind you at speed.

Smaller trucks seem to be generally less well driven than large ones.

But my main problem with the larger ones is how often they appear to be 'lost', driving round corners that are clearly far too tight for them (so they go over the pavement), or parked on the pavements on narrow roads blocking both the road and the pavement. They ought to be restricted to certain routes where they can physically fit.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [640 posts]
26th April 2014 - 11:03

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Thanks for the comment - a decent post.You are quite right. I have driven various heavy vehicles over the years, and with that experience I ensure that I keep well clear of the left hand side and blindspots on larger vehicles. I appreciate what they are capable of doing to me and ensure that I give them the space they require. If I stuff it up, they're going to hurt me a lot more than I am going to hurt them.

The headphones comment is spot on.

BTW, I am a 5 day-a-week commuter in London (plus a weekend wannabe road warrior) and I agree with people who state that cyclists are their own worst enemies. I see their stupid behaviour on a daily basis.

And I presume the tw@ts who are telling the HGVs to stay out of London will be the first to complain when the shelves become empty when they pop off to M&S for their lunchtime snack...

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

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posted by jmaccelari [144 posts]
26th April 2014 - 11:49

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I can understand what Chris is saying, ie be careful.

I see cyclists bombing along all the time, taking risks etc. One guy I used to work with used to have issues regularly with traffic and peds. I have issues once every 50 trips, but then again I always expect the worst and have my hands on the brakes all the time ready to stop if needs be.

There's sensible and there's stupid. And yes there are stupid idiots in cars and trucks. Equally there are stupid idiots on bikes and I see them every day.

That isn't to say that I ride at 5mph as I don't. My 9 mile commute from Tooting to Soho takes me less than 45 minutes including stopping at every single red light and taking several back roads.

posted by Joelsim [965 posts]
26th April 2014 - 22:24

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And I own a headphone business...the advice from Music To Your Ears is not to wear headphones whilst cycling. Ever.

And to treat all other road users with respect, and funnily enough that's what you get back 99% of the time.

posted by Joelsim [965 posts]
26th April 2014 - 22:25

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[quote=Argos74
To those suggesting cyclists drive a lorry for a day, remind me again how many lorry drivers have been killed in collisions with cyclists.

I think the point would be to understand the limitations of manoeuvring large vehilcles on small and busy roads and how significant the blind spots are.

posted by Scoob_84 [184 posts]
27th April 2014 - 8:35

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Scoob_84 wrote:
[quote=Argos74
To those suggesting cyclists drive a lorry for a day, remind me again how many lorry drivers have been killed in collisions with cyclists.

I think the point would be to understand the limitations of manoeuvring large vehilcles on small and busy roads and how significant the blind spots are.

Which would seem to make quite nicely the point that these vehicles are not fit for the purposes for which they are being used, and should be replaced.

posted by oldstrath [135 posts]
27th April 2014 - 9:54

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Replaced with what exactly?

Long vehicles will always have blind spots.

Answer is a compulsory test for all drivers every 5 years with enhanced test items on inside observation.

Last time I checked, observing the near side mirror before moving off isn't even a test item, it's an advanced driving technique, or at least it used to be.

If we want the ' modern world' we need long vehicles, I don't need it, but most seem to.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [490 posts]
27th April 2014 - 10:14

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Well i expected to get shot down in flames, but apart from a couple in the main the response has been positive.
Can i make ir clear, in my comments about headphones i was not, and would not point the finger at deaf people or the hard of hearing.
I would wholeheartedly support a ban on HGV 's say between 7 and 9am and 4 and 7pm it can only be a good idea.
I am pleased i do not drive either a skip lorry or tipper truck. And in the comment about me riding a bike in London, not on your life. That is until like Milton Keynes, London has a series of red routes for cycles only. It's far too dangerous too many motor vehicles and lorries.
And remember the more mirrors you fit on a truck the more blind spots you create.

posted by Chris82 [2 posts]
27th April 2014 - 12:31

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Scoob_84 wrote:

I think the point would be to understand the limitations of manoeuvring large vehilcles on small and busy roads and how significant the blind spots are.

Then one should ask why they are on those small and busy roads.

I'm not arguing for a blanket ban, but time-and-again I (often as a pedestrian) see them slowly and painfully trying to negotiate roads that are clearly entirely unsuitable for them.
Why can they not be routed to avoid those small roads, and maybe the 'busy' roads could be made less busy by getting some of the other traffic off of them?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [640 posts]
27th April 2014 - 12:43

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Chris82 wrote:

Well i expected to get shot down in flames, but apart from a couple in the main the response has been positive.
Can i make ir clear, in my comments about headphones i was not, and would not point the finger at deaf people or the hard of hearing.
I would wholeheartedly support a ban on HGV 's say between 7 and 9am and 4 and 7pm it can only be a good idea.
I am pleased i do not drive either a skip lorry or tipper truck. And in the comment about me riding a bike in London, not on your life. That is until like Milton Keynes, London has a series of red routes for cycles only. It's far too dangerous too many motor vehicles and lorries.
And remember the more mirrors you fit on a truck the more blind spots you create.

Thank you for sticking around and reading the responses, Chris. And not only the positive ones either. I'm aware that my response will have seemed hostile to you, but the general tone of your opening post and some of the points you made did get my blood boiling a bit. In case you simply phrased them in an unfortunate way and I misunderstood, I apologise.

I'm glad you agree about the rush hour ban, in my mind this is one of the things that would greatly improve the situation in a lot of cities.

Good point about more mirrors creating new blind spots, though. Goes to show that a new approach to this problem must be found instead.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

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posted by userfriendly [229 posts]
27th April 2014 - 20:14

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"your a moron" - says it all really.

If I see a truck, I will approach and overtake it on the outside. I won't "stay away" or "keep back", because there's really no need, unless the driver's not looking in his mirrors when I perform a safe overtake.

Personally, I don't wear headphones as I like to hear what's going on, but deaf people also cycle and you can't hear the environment in a car or truck with the radio on.

The roads of London are indeed too narrow, congested and potholed to safely cope with the amount of traffic on them. If you look closely though, you'll see that a bike takes up much less room than a truck or even a car, so that's not the fault of cyclists.

I wonder what sort of reaction I'd get if I logged onto a trucker's website and tried to give them some tips on safe driving.

posted by srchar [55 posts]
29th April 2014 - 10:12

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Scoob_84 wrote:
The cycling extremists are out in force again

Who'd have thought it, on a cycling forum too. Devious subversive bastards.

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posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
29th April 2014 - 10:49

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How about a "drivers mate" - the Army has been using them forever, a passenger to assist the driver in observation, loading and unloading etc.

We've enough unemployed in this country, hell you don't need to be fit, qualified or a people person, you just need to be able to look out a passenger window and have enough of a command of the English language to say "clear" or "wait..........clear now" probably helpful if you like Yorkie bars too.

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posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
29th April 2014 - 10:59

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Things the roads of London are DEFINITELY not designed for: four axle tipper trucks

posted by Al__S [496 posts]
29th April 2014 - 11:08

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srchar wrote:

If I see a truck, I will approach and overtake it on the outside. I won't "stay away" or "keep back", because there's really no need, unless the driver's not looking in his mirrors when I perform a safe overtake.

Would you give your kids the same advice?

There is nothing wrong with overtaking safely but you're the sort of person who is a member of a cycling forum. For general safety purposes "stay clear" is better advice.

posted by drfabulous0 [274 posts]
29th April 2014 - 11:31

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chrisp1973 wrote:
How about a "drivers mate" - the Army has been using them forever, a passenger to assist the driver in observation, loading and unloading etc.

We've enough unemployed in this country, hell you don't need to be fit, qualified or a people person, you just need to be able to look out a passenger window and have enough of a command of the English language to say "clear" or "wait..........clear now" probably helpful if you like Yorkie bars too.

That sounds like a good idea and a great way to create jobs, especially for folks who've been struggling! Although I suppose it'd be down to the profit of the company who employs them, it might be quite a large overhead in the long run for smaller freight or construction firms.

Unless it was like a part time or even a return-to-work scheme type thing.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
29th April 2014 - 11:32

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drfabulous0 wrote:
Would you give your kids the same advice?

There is nothing wrong with overtaking safely but you're the sort of person who is a member of a cycling forum. For general safety purposes "stay clear" is better advice.

If I had kids, I wouldn't allow them to mix it with traffic in central London's rush hour full stop. I'm not advising newbies to overtake every truck they see (although I'd rather they did that than undertake); I simply stated that I overtake when I think it's safe to do so.

I strongly dislike all the "CYCLISTS - GET BACK" stickers that have appeared on buses and lorries over the last few months. They solve nothing and merely serve to reinforce the general opinion that bikes do not belong on roads and should not mix with traffic.

posted by srchar [55 posts]
29th April 2014 - 13:17

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It seems to me that our roads especially in London are not designed for their current users - mostly they were designed in the days of horses or very small motors of the early 20th century. The post by Chris82 was just one of someone trying to make their daily way around an inadequate system. To make the bad system work we all need to exercise a bit of common sense. What I have noticed is that when I am commuting on my bicycle that I tend not to want to stop because of the extra effort and hassle so the temptation to take a risk is there - I mostly manage to ignore the temptation but we all are prone to poor judgement on occasions.
I commute past the Tower of London on my east to west London journey and there are times when lorries seem to outnumber all other road users on that stretch so I would be in favour of a Paris type ban it would ease things a bit.

posted by Crankpoet [6 posts]
3rd May 2014 - 15:24

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The junction around Tower Bridge/Tower of London is awful. Had to navigate it every day for a three month contract going south-east to north-east and back again each day. When it's busy, it's terrifying due to the sheer volume of heavy traffic, and if you leave work a little late and it's quieter, there's always a driver or two using it as a racetrack.

posted by bashthebox [625 posts]
4th May 2014 - 11:43

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bashthebox wrote:
The junction around Tower Bridge/Tower of London is awful. Had to navigate it every day for a three month contract going south-east to north-east and back again each day. When it's busy, it's terrifying due to the sheer volume of heavy traffic, and if you leave work a little late and it's quieter, there's always a driver or two using it as a racetrack.

It's horrible on a bicycle, in a car or on a motorbike. I've done all three often enough. I try and go a different route if I can.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
4th May 2014 - 21:51

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Not really much alternative for me if I'm working in East London. I could go over London Bridge, but that's hardly a better or safer alternative.

posted by bashthebox [625 posts]
4th May 2014 - 22:18

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OldRidgeback wrote:
bashthebox wrote:
The junction around Tower Bridge/Tower of London is awful. Had to navigate it every day for a three month contract going south-east to north-east and back again each day. When it's busy, it's terrifying due to the sheer volume of heavy traffic, and if you leave work a little late and it's quieter, there's always a driver or two using it as a racetrack.

It's horrible on a bicycle, in a car or on a motorbike. I've done all three often enough. I try and go a different route if I can.

Totally agree. I actually wrote to the Mayor's office about it once after a particularly scary ride through that junction one morning and whilst I did get a response (from Andrew Gilligan) it was a template "look at all the stuff we're doing for cycling in London" email, none of which included making changes to that junction. It's pretty grim, whichever way you're tackling it, so that includes when coming off CS3 then onto the bridge. A big part of the problem is when you travel south to north you're in single lane traffic over the bridge which then fans out into 3 different lanes for then taking 4/5 different exits at the junction, so everyone's all over the place. It's not always safe to filter up to the ASL and if you do get there there's often a BMW and a van taking up a chunk of it. Nightmare.

posted by spin sugar [25 posts]
4th May 2014 - 23:26

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Yup, or a bus, or a lorry, or a coach. Even once had a driver deliberately push across me. That was nice. Best advice is to cross the bridge at the same speed as the motor traffic, then take it very easy whilst filtering into the ASL if possible.

posted by bashthebox [625 posts]
5th May 2014 - 10:47

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spin sugar wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:
bashthebox wrote:
The junction around Tower Bridge/Tower of London is awful. Had to navigate it every day for a three month contract going south-east to north-east and back again each day. When it's busy, it's terrifying due to the sheer volume of heavy traffic, and if you leave work a little late and it's quieter, there's always a driver or two using it as a racetrack.

It's horrible on a bicycle, in a car or on a motorbike. I've done all three often enough. I try and go a different route if I can.

Totally agree. I actually wrote to the Mayor's office about it once after a particularly scary ride through that junction one morning and whilst I did get a response (from Andrew Gilligan) it was a template "look at all the stuff we're doing for cycling in London" email, none of which included making changes to that junction. It's pretty grim, whichever way you're tackling it, so that includes when coming off CS3 then onto the bridge. A big part of the problem is when you travel south to north you're in single lane traffic over the bridge which then fans out into 3 different lanes for then taking 4/5 different exits at the junction, so everyone's all over the place. It's not always safe to filter up to the ASL and if you do get there there's often a BMW and a van taking up a chunk of it. Nightmare.

Oh, and the road surface is crap as well, due to the tourist buses using the route most likely. On a bicycle or a motorbike particularly, that increases the danger. If you can go another way, do.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
6th May 2014 - 11:15

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